CSIRO’s Queensland research in geothermal energy, carbon capture and biofuels and its education program will most likely feel the brunt of an estimated 66 CSIRO jobs to be lost in the state.
CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark on May 14 identified the areas where Australia’s leading scientific research would be cut back in the wake of the Federal Budget.
In an email to all staff, Dr Clark said geothermal energy research, carbon capture and storage, liquid fuels, neurosciences, urban water research, schools education and clinical medicine in areas outside nutrition would be cut.
Fairfax Media is now investigating how intensive these research areas are in Queensland.
CSIRO’s Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies at Pullenvale provides clean coal technology research.
The same centre has for almost a decade provided research in the liquid fuels areas.
The CSIRO is also a sponsor of geothermal research conducted by the Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence at the University of Queensland.
Queensland has two education units – because it is a large state geographically - one in Brisbane and a second in Townsville.
These centres face job cuts, although CSIRO spokesman Huw Morgan said no cuts to the education area would be taken until June.
“There are seven staff employed in Brisbane and four in Townsville,” Mr Morgan said.
“We’re still determining the full impacts of the Budget and cannot advise how many staff will be affected until then. This should be known by the end of June 2014.”
He said CSIRO’s state-based teams will be maintained in Brisbane and Townsville, “with a focus on delivering national programs that highlight CSIRO’s research”.
“Numbers of staff will be determined once the full impacts of the budget are worked through.”
CSIRO Education school visit services in South Queensland are fully booked for 2014 and are heavily booked in the Townsville office.
Both centres provide daily visits to primary and secondary schools.
The Queensland Government used CSIRO facilities at Pullenvale as a launch pad for its plans to teach mining in Queensland schools, however did not reply to requests for comment on how the CSIRO cuts might affect its plans.
Mr Morgan said CSIRO was still trying to evaluate the impact on Queensland of the budget cuts.
Modelling of CSIRO positions in Queensland by the the Community and Public Sector Union last week estimated that 66 CSIRO jobs would be lost in Queensland after analysing the budget papers.
On Friday last week, Dr Clark, said CSIRO could benefit from research linked to the new Medical Research Future Fund, in part funded by the $7 GP co-payment.
“We will await the progress of the new Medical Research Future Fund and the mechanisms for funding particularly in relation to CSIRO’s work in food and nutrition, e-health, biomedical manufacturing and vaccines and therapeutics for viruses coming from animals which are important areas for our Flagships and integrated health strategy, “ Dr Clark said.
She said CSIRO would still receive $3 billion dollars of government funding and $1.9 billion dollars of external partner funding over the next four years.